EUROPEAN PREVIEW: Speedway of Nations

Great Britain will discover their opposition for next month’s Speedway of Nations Final as the semi-finals take place in Daugavpils this weekend.

Image courtesy of Steve Hone

The Latvian venue stages events on Friday and Saturday with three qualifiers to come from each meeting – the top two scorers in each semi automatically go through, and they are joined by the winners of a race-off between third and fourth each night.

Semi-final one features two of the big favourites, Poland and Denmark. For the Poles, World Champion Bartosz Zmarzlik is joined by in-form Dominik Kubera, whilst the Danes are represented by their established top two of Leon Madsen and Mikkel Michelsen.

Both nations are also well served in the U21 department with Jakub Miskowiak and Mads Hansen respectively.

The other countries in semi-final 1 include Sweden, with Fredrik Lindgren declared fit after his horror crash in Vojens last week, whilst the USA include rising stars Luke Becker and Broc Nicol, and the Czech Republic go with experienced duo Vaclav Milik and Josef Franc.

Finland include Tero Aarnio and Timo Lahti, whilst Slovenia face the event without their established star name Matej Zagar.

Australia are hot favourites for semi-final two, with Jason Doyle and Max Fricke lining up for Mark Lemon’s side and Keynan Rew named as their U21 rider.

Reigning champions MFR are without their double-winning duo Emil Sayfutdinov and Artem Laguta, although Sergey Logachev and Vladimir Borodulin could still challenge for qualification.

It looks to be an open battle with Nico Covatti and Paco Castagna lining up for Italy, Andzejs Lebedevs leading the Latvian attack, and David Bellego and Dimitri Berge the established duo for France.

Germany are weakened by the injury absence of Martin Smolinski, whilst Alexandr Loktaev will be expected to score the big points for Ukraine.

Sunday’s main focus is on the PGE Ekstraliga Grand Final – with two GB riders involved as Tai Woffinden and Dan Bewley line up for Wroclaw at Lublin.

The teams finished first and second in the regular league table with Wroclaw six points ahead, although when they met early in the season in Round 3, it was Lublin who came away with a 52-38 victory.

However, that result is not entirely reflective of what can be expected on Sunday as Woffinden missed that meeting due to injury with Wroclaw operating rider-replacement.

Bewley scored 5+2 from four rides in the meeting, with Gleb Chugunov and Artem Laguta both in double figures.

The home side are expected to be at full strength with Grigory Laguta set to ride despite his horrific crash in last weekend’s semi-final.
The third/fourth place play-off also gets underway on Sunday with Leszno hosting Gorzow in their first leg. The visitors pulled off a shock 48-42 victory back on the opening weekend of the season, with Zmarzlik scoring 14 points from five rides.

Meanwhile Woffinden helped put Dackarna in a strong position in their Swedish Elitserien quarter-final, with 12+1 from five rides in the first leg at Lejonen.
Dackarna won the meeting 48-42, with the home side tracking a weakened line-up with Robert Lambert unavailable and Jarek Hampel reportedly prevented from racing by Lublin.

The other quarter-final is nicely poised with Rospiggarna leading Vetlanda 48-42 after their opening clash at Hallstavik. Both second legs take place next week.